Tag Archives: traffic

Social Media trolling or screaming obscenities from the safety of a fortress…


So, as many of the ramblings posted here have done before, this one takes inspiration from my experiences as well as conversations that crop up between friends. This particular one stems from a couple of different conversations, but the most recent went something like this:

Friend:  Yeah, I think people screwing with my plans is about the second or third most rage-inducing thing in life.
Me:  I sorta had gave up the rage factor on people messing with my plans about the time Saddam Hussein decided to vacation in Kuwait.
Friend:  Never give up your rage, without it, what ever would we do in traffic?
Me:  Same @#$% people do on social media, rage impotence from behind the shield of anonymity provided by computers and tinted windows?
Friend:  No, that’s for amateurs. The pros roll down their windows and make sure the intended target’s attention is well and truly garnered first.
Me:  Funny how so many get super brave and enormous social media balls fueling insults and threats and other bad manners. Yet, in person… they talk behind backs and generally smile and nod when confronted.
Friend:  It’s been a while since anyone threatened me on the social medias <sigh>.

From there we considered our mutual bent towards an unusual nature that is willing to embrace erudite vocabulary, intermittent swearing, and colorful metaphors without the benefit of shielding or anonymity. The friend’s observation is that most individuals are generally afraid of one or two things are likely outcomes in those situations: 1) actual conflict and 2) how it will make them look. For me, I tend to pick my battles. What I’ve discovered is that most of the battles in the virtual world aren’t worth my energy to have a truly emotional reaction. On the other hand, the traffic shyte… I still let rip with the best. It’s cathartic, and as long as my phone is on mute, I’ll remain employed and on good terms with my mother.

So, contrary to the behaviors of others, I’m least likely to stir the pot in the social media arena. I tend to avoid the hyperbolic and generally take a wide berth from flame wars and general trollery. Very unlike my behavior in person where my filters seem to be perennially blocked, and I’m likely to just let fly with whatever snark is lurking between my ears. The outcome is frequently unfortunate given any situation where observation will lead to less than complimentary commentary. The results are that my internal dialog choses to make itself externally present… fatigue often weighs into the balance towards a more likely chance of this occurrence. I haven’t decided if it is my general disapprobation of the cowardice inherent in that anonymity and safety of the keyboard diatribe and polite silence or if it is just a basic lack of self-preservation on my part. Given my father’s commentary on my usual modus operandi as “snatching defeat from the jaws of victory,” I’m going with the latter. Whatever the underlying cause, I would be the child at the side of the road pointing and saying “But he’s naked!” Honesty is not always the best policy. I’m learning, and it helps that frequently the overriding indolence will prevent my announcements as much as any prudence. It just simply isn’t worth my time or energy for the most part.

What IS it about humanity that they grow very large gonads when they feel they have the protection of invisibility or invulnerability? And why is it when these same types are confronted with their own flavor of incivility that they tend to run crying to whatever level of protector they can find pleading bullying and crying “FOUL”. Seriously, I’m astounded at the amount of nasty, hurtful, and semi-libelous (it is technically in print) bullpucky people fling at each other on the book of faces or twits. I cannot imagine most of said asshats having the actual (rather than virtual) cahones to say the same to someone’s face.

In the same way, I’ve actually observed people in traffic and on interstates having verbal and nonverbal seizures in response to our fellow travelers on the road. It’s times like these that make me rather wish for installed loudspeaker systems so that the targets of their ire can truly appreciate the creativity (or lack thereof). I would also like to install little electronic scoreboards so that we might give appropriate feedback. “Excellent use of extemporaneous verbiage. I give it a 8.7. Had to deduct points for lack of feasibility.”

What is completely dissimilar about the two different venues of diatribe is that most of our fellow journeymen (and women) on the road are unlikely to be aware or suffer any of the slings and arrows we spew forth in their general direction. Except in the most spiritual of ways, that verbal badinage of ill will hovers in a cloud around our own head and, for the parents in my readership, is occasionally reflected back from the mouths of babes who have overheard. The targets drive blissfully on in ignorance and probably dangerous levels of driving incompetence. On the other hand, the witting or unwitting target of hateful vocabulary flung upon the interwebs of social media and commentary are readily visible. Whether they know from whence the attack arises or not, that person is generally able to read, peruse, and commit to memory every ugly subject and predicate. Additionally, the verbal abuse flung from a car window is momentary, passing, and passes by as the car and the moment. That stuff on the webpage or text screen can be preserved for evah!

Now, for those of us healthy enough to realize that people flinging nasty at each other behind the mask of technology really should not make lasting impact on our self-esteem or psyches, it is possible to ignore…unfollow… block… and move on. But the old thing about sticks and stones isn’t entirely true. Our bodies tend to heal a good deal more quickly than our egos when words scar and threats scare. Lives have been ruined over what seems to be silly online commentary. Freedom of speech (or typing) is not freedom from consequences.

Personally, I do not think that censorship is the answer. I think common sense (which is not so very common) is a better solution. If you wouldn’t say it where someone could actually face or possibly reach you, then don’t say it. If you don’t want it recorded for posterity and possibly flung back in your face like a monkey defending territory, don’t put it on the internet. Seems pretty simple to me; which means that it will be ignored the whole way ‘round, my best guess. So, back to the end of that conversation at the beginning… it pretty much dissolved into the much more important topic of a team name. What do y’all think? Should we be the Slaughter Monkeys or Rioting Llamas? Decisions… decisions…

The Stars Are Stacked Against You Girl, Get Back In Bed*

There are certain things in this life that appear to be universal. For instance, it’s a bad idea to let someone you just met pick your tattoo after a night of tequila shots. Bartenders want all Journey songs removed from jukeboxes and karaoke lists. No one looks like a Mensa member with a flat-billed, oversized baseball cap turned to the side. Legos are deadly when stepped on in the dark. And if I have planned to get into the office earlier than usual, I am guaranteed to forget everything, including my wardrobe in various steps making me at least ten minutes later than my usual arrival.

I had one of those mornings. You know the kind. The kind or morning that indicated apparently my subconscious and the universe had a meeting and decided that they did not want me to leave my home. I forgot everything but my pants, and not all at once. It was piecemeal. Get to the car…and, I forgot that folder. Run upstairs and grab the folder only to remember that I left my briefcase on the couch. Remember the keys to the car were left in a pants pocket now in the laundry pile… And manage to get all the way to the stop sign at the end of your neighborhood to realize that I left my coffee in its go-cup on the counter.

Yes, of course I turned around to get it. Did you really want me driving in morning rush traffic in a caffeine deficit?

Speaking of traffic, apparently to have instant idiots on the roadways, just add water. No lie. It is astounding how many people think that they have some sort of magical shielding on their small, compact vehicle that will somehow, miraculously prevent them doing an impression of a trash compacted soda can while they whip it out (yes, I said it like that on purpose) in front of the semi barreling along at 55 miles per hour. This favored risk-taking behavior seems to occur with a much higher prevalence when rain has fallen increasing braking distance by a relative factor of how much friction is decreased by rain mixed with oil and other mechanical fluids coating the asphalt surface.

After the harrowing experience of morning traffic, I finally arrived at the office to find that the pushers of all things technical and software related had run an update on the network that my comp had to catch up with, and I was threatened with my life if I did so much as breathe hard while the warning was on the screen. I sat, hardly daring to glance away, should the technology gods perceive that I had not adhered to their admonitions and corrupted my entire workspace. Finally, a new window appeared indicating that my computer would reboot in 60, 59, 58… or I could Reboot Now. Gratefully, I clicked the reboot now… AND… Just kidding, WRONG ANSWER! The BSOD, the “blue screen of death” for those who are unfamiliar with the acronym. Heaving a ponderous sigh… I shut down the computer and sat momentarily staring at the darkened screen. I sent out a plea to the universe. As I pushed the power button and waited expectantly to see if the computer would behave, I told myself that should it fail to do so, I would take it as a sign that today was a bust and I should just go back to bed.

I’m not sure if it was a benevolent higher power looking after my work ethic and taking pity on me or some more maleficent entity that said, “Nay, you must endure the rest of your day, limping along in anxiety about your data and reports…” but the computer came back readily. So, no day off for me with the excuse of technology SNAFUs or Mercury in retrograde. However, on days like this, I really would love to be able to hit the reset button and get a Mulligan, but what the hell! I might get lucky today.

*Thanks to Mary Chapin Carpenter , “I Feel Lucky” 1992